A perfect follow-up worship song for our last post about God giving strength to those who have none. This is a precious, peaceful song about walking through a life in which our strength comes from the Lord alone – we ask Him daily to be strong for us, and in the end we will testify that He was faithful in this.
I’ve tried to stand my ground
I’ve tried to understand
But I can’t seem to find
My faith again
Like water on the sand
Or grasping at the wind
I keep on falling short
This has been me at times. I have laid in my bed after starting one more period (or even just on a normal day) and thought, “Lord, I do not have a single ounce of strength left for this.” I have, at times, begged Him to remove from my heart the desire to have children. I’ve wondered if He might just make us decidedly infertile through some tragic event, so we could know for sure we will never get pregnant again (shoot us out of our misery, if you will). I have found the thought of one more day or month to be truly agonizing, let alone the thought of a lifetime without getting pregnant or knowing if I will.
And a few months ago, feeling exhausted from a tragic, emergency surgery and recovering on my in-laws’ couch, while likewise wrestling with other struggles from our life and work overseas, I was reading in Isaiah (that is: scouring the Bible for any fresh word of encouragement), when this verse was given:
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” -Isaiah 40:2
Did you hear those words? To those who have no might He increases strength. This is very different to me than the (equally inspired, equally important, equally truth-filled) verses that call us to strengthen ourselves (“Be strong…”). This is the verse to the woman at the absolute end of her rope. When you have no power left to do this one more time (one more day, one more cycle, one more year, one more whatever) — He meets you there with strength.
I beg you to be empowered (literally!) by this hope-filled truth today. It’s only appropriate to end this post by sharing the full context of this comforting verse. I encourage you to read Isaiah 40 when you have a quiet moment today, and soak your heart in this great truth about the Strong One who has enough strength for everyone.
“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.”
I read (and wrote a lot about) Tim Keller’s book Walking with God Through Pain in Suffering in the last several months of our first infertility journey. One thing among many that always stuck with me was his noting from the Psalms when the psalmist talks to himself. “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” He says in Psalm 42. Keller writes a lot about the value of this “self-talk” — it’s a skill in counseling yourself out of a real or impending emotional pit. As a Christian you already have a strong foundation of things to self-talk about. You know the truth, even if you slip away from it in despair.
This song calls that idea to mind. “Stay steadfast, my soul!,” cries the singer. And as a voice of experience (who is also fighting the pit with you), I call out with her from the next verse: “He’s in the waiting!” Be strong in this struggle, friend. If you’re wondering where God is in all of this, you have found Him. This is exactly where He is — in this struggle, in this mess, in this pain. He’s right here — in the waiting.
Slow down, take time
Breathe in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come
My husband and I recently hit a tough patch in our infertility trial. We were not sure of our next steps, and we felt so discouraged. One verse kept popping into my mind, so I thought perhaps someone else reading this may need it to “pop” into hers as well. It’s Psalm 71:14
As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.
What a rich truth to be reminded of over and over. There is always hope. We always have hope.
Here is that beautiful Psalm in its entirety….
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. 2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. 3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6 From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. 7 I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge. 8 My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.
9 Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. 10 For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. 11 They say, “God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.” 12 Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me. 13 May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace.
14 As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. 17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.
19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? 20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. 21 You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.
22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered. 24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.
A little while back I was chatting with my husband’s family on the question of the best book we ever read besides the Bible. Agreeing it was hard to really choose one, we all shared about a book that highly impacted us. My mother-in-law mentioned The Valley of Vision, and others concurred that it was really excellent. I made a mental note to read it sometime. A couple weeks later I was randomly gifted a copy, so I took that as a sign that “sometime” is now.
This morning I started reading it — it’s a book of old Puritan prayers. My husband and I decided to read one a day together before bed. I’m not typically a fan of recited prayers, as Jesus warns against praying the same words over and over like the Pharisees do (see Matthew 6). But I appreciate the poetic nature and sentiment of these very biblical, deep prayers, and the value they add to my own praying.
All that to say, the very first one in the book is the one the title comes from, and it made me tear up immediately. It is so perfect for this trial. I called my husband in for a second reading, and he too got teary. We both expressed an interest in maybe framing it to be reminded of its deep truths, which we have been learning in our trial of infertility.
Here it is (go get the tissues!)…
Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.